[Trigger warning: this post references suicide]
This week is Men’s Health Week, and on Sunday many of us may be seeing or thinking about our dads for Father’s Day. When it comes to mental health, we know that all too often men tend to suffer in silence while keeping their feelings to themselves. They’re also less likely to seek help.
Stigmas play a large factor in this. We live in a time when there’s less stigma associated with mental health care, but for previous generations talking about mental health issues, or even being too open about your feelings, was viewed as a sign of weakness.
Research also shows that the pressure to adhere to traditional masculine gender roles and traits such as stoicism, invulnerability, and self-reliance also deter men from seeking help when they need it.
An unfortunate truth
A study published in 2014 revealed that globally, men are 1.8 times as likely to take their own lives as women. And in western countries where the male-to-female ratio is higher, that rate climbs to 3.8.
There are many factors that contribute to this unfortunate reality, but one thing is sure: Any suicide is a tremendous loss, and the effects can be felt by many.
One way to help prevent these tragedies is reaching out to those in need. Another is research, so suicide is better understood and ultimately prevented. Here are three MQ-funded projects working to prevent people from taking their own lives:
- HOPES, which stands for Help Overcome and Predict the Emergence of Suicide, aims to develop a model to predict who is at risk of suicide by analysing brain scans and data on suicidal behaviour.
- SAFE TEL is a support programme being tested in the UK which helps reduce risk of suicide by identifying warning signs and looking for ways to respond to suicidal thoughts.
- Using Data Science, researchers are working with schools to get insight into risk factors for suicide, with an eye on prevention.
Hope for tomorrow
As we think about our fathers, and all of the men in our lives, we can be hopeful thanks to research.
Research has helped advance how we understand and view mental health, reducing some of the stigmas and giving more men the confidence to reach out for help when they need it.
A donation to mental health research can help us continue this progress, building a better world – with better mental health – for everyone.